Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Dave gets Snarky: The Doctor's Office from the 80s

I'm in a bad mood tonight. I've been sitting at my computer for 3 hours and have accomplished almost nothing even though I've been trying to accomplish things and have not in fact played a single game of Mumu.

This is the kind of bad mood that would be improved by me making someone else grumpy. Since I haven't got anybody to grump at right now, I would like to share an exchange I recently had with the office of a medical specialist.

I realized in late February that I had lost the piece of paper telling me when I was supposed to see this specialist for a followup to a test that I took. A test that obviously hadn't shown anything serious because it was one of those deals where if it was serious, it was seriously serious and they would call me in right away, but if it wasn't serious, I'd just go in so they could tell me I'm okay but I'd be even better if I cut back on fats and sugars and exercise more.

I'd lost the paper, but I had the doctor's business card. First I tried the phone number. It rang a few times and then I got a message telling me that they were on lunch hour and I'd have to call back between 1:30 and 4pm.

I called at 3pm and got a busy signal.

So I sent an email to the address on the card:


I believe I have an appointment late this month with Dr. Q to review results of a test...

I can't find the paper with the date for the appointment on it.

Would you be able to tell me when it is?

Thank you,

David Scrimshaw

Seconds later, I received a reply:

From: admin...

Sent: February 18, 2009 3:00 PM

To: Scrimshaw, David

Subject: We do not respond to emails

Thank you for your email. However we do not respond to clinical emails.

Please contact the office by phone 613.....

So I replied:

From: Scrimshaw, David

Sent: February 18, 2009 3:01 PM

To: admin...

Subject: RE: We do not respond to emails

Then why do you have an email address?

Just to annoy people?

I felt pretty good about this, but it had two obvious problems.

  1. Obviously, nobody is actually reading these emails; and
  2. I still didn't know when I was supposed to see the doctor.

I tried the phone number again. Busy signal.

I set an Outlook reminder and tried phoning several more times over the next two days. Every time I called I got the busy signal or the message about how it was the wrong time.

So I sent a fax.

You'll be happy to know that within a half-hour, a sheepish-sounding woman phoned me and actually apologized because my appointment was supposed to be for the next day but the doctor was out of town and they had to reschedule my appointment. She was kind of sheepish about it all, but I took no pleasure in it. It was really the guy in charge that I wanted to hear apologize.

Here is the fax I sent:


Re: Appointment with Dr. Q


I am faxing because:

  • When I call, I either get a busy signal or a message that you're not answering your phone at the time I call.
  • When I emailed, I got a reply that says you don't reply to emails.

I think I have an appointment next week, but maybe I've already missed it.

If you are able to, could you let me know when my appointment is? I have lost the paper with the date.

David Scrimshaw

Tel: 613-236-.... [my phone is usually free, and when not, you can leave a voicemail]

Email: david....@....ca [I do reply to emails]

p.s. Given that you deal with people who may respond poorly to stress and tension, perhaps you should investigate some of the modern communication techniques like using the "reply" button on emails and using "voicemail".


Wandering Coyote said...

Good for you!

RealGrouchy said...

You Go David!

- RG>

Anonymous said...

My headset 'phone and the redial button stand me in good stead for calls when I know I am going to get busy signals but don't want to waste a lot of time. That way work gets done and eventually my calls get through.

Anonymous said...

change d service provider and write an email 2 them about it:-

Anonymous said...

this is just so ridiculous it makes me wanna barf! it's no wonder there are 'wait times' when there are systems like this in place that clearly do not work. ah .... did you ever find out what secret business they use that e-mail address for??! lol

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, I don't reply to blog postings. Please have this printed in a newspaper, and I'll get back to you as soon as possible.

David Scrimshaw said...

I'm not sure you folks should be encouraging me in this sort of thing. But I still love getting positive reinforcement.

Aggie said...

I love snarky Dave as long as it's not directed towards me.

richgold said...

That's just brilliant.

Pearl said...

do like your persistence.

that reminds of what Sue said about family doctor experience versus dentist experience http://mompoet.blogspot.com/2009/03/why-doctors-office-doesnt-look-so-good.html

Sage Kara said...

Hi there, somehow I came cross your blog and read it. I really enjoyed reading it (well except your doctor appointment part, I am sorry that you’ve gone through all the trouble) Thanks for sharing your experience. I was just wondering a sheepish-sounding woman apologized because they had to change your appointment without giving you a notice or she apologized because you had hard time when you were trying to reach them? Will they fix those problems?
Many thanks,
Sage (((~_~)))

David Scrimshaw said...

Sage, your guess is as good as mine as to why the woman sounded sheepish.

As to whether they'll change anything, let's just say that I hope I don't have a downturn in my health anytime soon.

Sage Kara said...

Hi David,

Thanks for your response. You look so healthy. So I don't think you would have a downturn in your health anytime soon. Have a great weekend.

Sage (((~_~)))